Simon Grayson says he opted to recall keeper Thorsten Stuckmann for Preston North End’s victory over Bristol City as he felt the German’s height would help them cope better with the League One leaders.
Stuckmann got the nod over Jamie Jones who had been a first-team regular since signing from Leyton Orient in the summer.
Not since April 2013 away at Crawley had Stuckmann played in a league game and he took his chance with both gloves, keeping a clean sheet as PNE clinched a 1-0 win through Callum Robinson’s first-half goal.
North End boss Grayson said: “I have no issues with Jamie Jones, I think he has done well for us.
“We just felt that Stucki has been waiting patiently for an opportunity.
“I have had a close look at him over the last month and have been impressed with his professionalism and attitude.
“We had a reserve game last Tuesday in which he was very comfortable.
“The difference between him and Jamie is that Stucki is a little bit taller and fills the goal a bit more.
“We knew that Bristol City would be a threat from set pieces and crosses, so that bit of extra height was went we went for.
“It is no slight on Jamie, he has helped us win games this season. We have competition and if you have a No.2 goalkeeper waiting patiently, sometimes he deserves an opportunity to show what he can do.
“They put us under a bit of pressure with balls into the box and they had a good chance early in the game and then just after half-time.
“But throughout the game all the lads in front of Stucki gave him a lot of protection.
“The best teams in the world start with work rate and attitude and the football side of things comes next”
Since his last appearance in the league 19 months ago, Stuckmann had played just four first-team games, three in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and last season’s Capital One Cup tie against Burnley.
He will keep his place for tomorrow night’s JPT visit to Oldham and might now be in for an extended run.
It goes without saying that Grayson was pleased to get back to winning ways in the league after three defeats on the bounce.
The victory closed the gap on City down to two points and they are just a point behind second-place Swindon.
Said Grayson: “It had to be a good performance against a side top of the table who have some fantastic players.
“We knew that we really had to be at our game. Last week we worked extremely hard in training on our shape and closing down – we just felt that in the last few weeks we had not been closing down without the ball.
“What we did was to get on the front foot and defend well when we had to.
“We always knew that we would get chances because we have players who are capable of scoring in every game they are involved in.
“Of course we expected to be under pressure at times as we were playing a side who did not want to give up lightly their unbeaten home record.
“This was a big result and very satisfying as it came off the back of three defeats in the league.
“What helped us was the clear week we had on the training pitch to work on our shape. With playing every midweek recently, that was something we had not been able to do. It was good to reinforce the ideas which I felt we had slightly gone away from.”